Wednesday 15 November 2017

Newsletter 15 November 2017

Socializing with ReChoired

Dear all,
We're now getting stuck into our new year and there are lots of plans afoot. We've also had a couple of amazing events recently.
First of all, ReChoired, a super smaller choir from Denmark joined us in October for a concert, a workshop and plenty of socialising. Read details here.
Then two weeks ago the choir had a weekend away at the lovely Rydal Hall. Last time we went it was summer and we had particularly good weather. We did wonder what it might be like in the winter. We needn't have worried. It was just as good. Read more details here.     
As you can see, we’ve been busy. And we're getting busier.

Forthcoming Events

You can also find details on our Facebook page and we’ll usually put links on Twitter as well.
At most of our events you can get tickets on the door. However, we do recommend getting tickets in advance where we offer this. It helps us and it guarantees that you won’t be turned away at the door. We’ve not had to do that yet but we’ve come close to it.    
18 November Christmas Markets Some of us are supporting sister choir Honour, singing at the Christmas Markets. From 5.30.  
3 December  Christmas Markets Again we'll be supporting Honour at the Christmas Markets. 5.30.

10 December Moodswings Arndale Centre We'll be singing in the Arndale Centre to support the charity Moodswings, starting at about 1.30. After that we'll be singing in Waterstones in the Arndale Centre.     

12 December Christmas Markets We're singing at the Christmas Markets from 5.30.    

13 December Kidscan We'll be supporting Kidscan at The Wharf, 6 Slate Wharf, Castlefield, Manchester, M15 4ST, 7.30 until 8.30. This is a very informal event but if you're in the area pop along, and if you can, support Kidscan. Kidscan is a cancer research organisation, specialising in treatment for children's cancer. It has a strong Salford connection, in particular with the university. As do many of us.        

11 February MACC - Manchester Amateur Choral Competition  Yes, we'll be there again. This is an all-day event and audience tickets are £10.00. Save the date and come and support us. Read about our history with the MACC here.
Also, save the date: 7 July 2018 Buxton – our annual trip to the Buxton Fringe. Details in next newsletter.

Also coming shortly:

More work for Kidscan, and more concerts, including with other choirs. Details yet to be finalised.  Watch this space!     

Talking of sister choir Honour

Congratulations to Honour on the recent successful Kickstarter compaign. You can read all about it here.  I looked at it about an hour ago - and not only was it complete then, when I looked a couple of minutes ago it had gone up again! There's still time to get involved.    
Happy singing and listening, everyone. 

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Monday 6 November 2017

Autumn, Rydal and Singing

"I think I almost prefer it when the sky is grey and moody," I say.
"Yes, I know what you mean." 

You can't help but think of Wordsworth and the way nature in this part of the world both spooked and inspired him.  

We are enjoying a lovely lunch and looking at the view from the dining room at Rydal Hall. As ever, we are really well looked after. The food is sublime, the bedrooms and common rooms spotless and tastefully decorated and the staff efficient, effective and caring. They're busy but they always find time for a chat.   

We've been before.  Read about our previous visit here.  It was slightly different experience as it was summer then and we were very fortunate with the weather. Yet this autumn visit is just as enchanting.  
On Saturday afternoon we take a break. I stay behind to chat to one of the ladies who works at the house. All of the others go off on various walks.  I've suddenly realised there is a very strong connection between Rydal and some research I'm doing. But where does the time go?  After what feels like a few moments there are voices in the entrance hall, and cake and teas as well, of course. 

"Relaxing walk, you said? We've done six miles and we were actually singing on the uphill bit. I need cake!"      

And we sing and sing, of course. 

Jeff puts us through our paces. "We're plugging the gaps," he says. Indeed, we try out quite a few pieces that are considerably different from what we normally do. Great fun and rather beautiful, in fact. Our music reading skills are thoroughly exercised. That's good, though.  

There is more singing on Friday evening as John and Paul (no, not the Liverpool lads but two of our very own basses) entertain us with their guitars and voices, soon to be joined by Ella and Marilyn. On Saturday evening Marilyn leads us in a sing-song of various Beatles' and Abba songs.

After dinner on Saturday we put on a mini-performance for the only other two guests at Rydal. We're just outside the office so the staff – who are still there at past eight o'clock – can hear us too. We include one song we've only just learnt – and it works! 

As ever it is mainly about the singing. As well, there is always something very companionable about singing with a choir. You're with a bunch of people you trust and you're working together to perfect something. Egos disappear. 

There are several extras, though, when you come to Rydal: the lovely surroundings, the beautiful old house, the generous hospitality, delicious food, a pleasant drive home and of course – cake!          

Wednesday 25 October 2017

A visit from ReChoired 19-22 October 2017

Enjoying good food and good company

It was quite fabulous that Greater Manchester did its best trick: it poured with rain and we got quite damp. No problem. It can be exactly the same in Copenhagen. We all say: no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.  So we set off for Ordsall Hall in raincoats and with umbrellas. Quite fabulous too that these lovely people stayed just on the edge of the Ordsall estate where it all began for the Ordsall A Cappella Singers.

ReChoired sing both a cappella and accompanied. They have 22 members. Their repertoire includes jazz, gospel, pop, motown, soul and well-known Danish songs. Conductor Peter Bom often arranges the songs for them.

They came to sing and be with us from 19 to 21 October. 

Yes, we became tour guides. One of our lovely sopranos, Helen Taylor, coordinated all of this beautifully and they quickly felt at home. Others chipped in and helped with the guided tours, tea, lunch, directions and much more. Thanks to everyone who helped make this a smooth and fun trip.

Ordsall Hall was a-buzz with a school group, another big party and ourselves. Yet we also spoke of what the acoustics were like, where we stood to sing and how we "closed down" the hall before it was restored. You have to know about Lowry if you come to Salford and Lowry gives us a good impression of what the old Salford was about. It was too wet for a walk around the sculpture trails that gives the full story of the Ship Canal but we had a good view of the Manchester United Stadium, the Imperial War Museum and the canal itself from the Lowry.

We also toured the city centre on Friday, getting very wet but having a great time anyway - ReChoired were particularly taken with the Town Hall, which was described as ‘magical’ and led to much 'bee-spotting’ around the rest of the tour. We also spent time at the Central Library, Royal Exchange Theatre (for a coffee and cake break naturally, and to get dry before going out in the rain again!) and the Cathedral, ending up with lunch in the Corn Exchange. 

We thoroughly introduced ReChoired to the Manchester tram network, which delighted them as Copenhagen ‘only’ has buses, underground trains and ferry boats between islands. They were steadfastly cheerful in the teeth of Storm Brian and very generous with their appreciation of our own music. 

Yes, quite right that they saw Salford first. Quite right too that we introduced them to some of the bars: Elnecot on Thursday and Kro Bar on Friday. Then there was after Kro closed. Vapiano was the venue for a meal on Saturday evening, followed by The Briton’s Protection  where ReChoired delighted everyone in the pub with a mini concert and then, after they collected some new Canadian fans who were in Manchester for a music convention, they went on to Via

We might have even said that we offered them a tour of the local churches: St Ninian's for our rehearsal on Friday, St Peter's Chaplaincy for our joint concert also on Friday and Brunswick Church for our joint workshop. Did this tour bring miracles? A ReChoired voice that was lost came back in St Ninian's. Some fabulous sounds happened in St Peter's. There were more good sounds the next day in Brunswick and a delicious spread, including freshly made pizza, for lunch, all of which seemed to come from nowhere. Maybe it was the hot tea, the enthusiasm of both choirs and that uncanny way that those sorts of meals always work. Maybe those are miracles anyway.  

Rehearsing together at St Ninian's

Of course the music was the main point. ReChoired brought along a delightful repertoire.  It was great to sing Kiss From a Rose with them and have them join us for One Day Like This at the concert.

Singing together the next day was really special. We enjoyed two slightly different warm-ups form Jeff and Peter. Jeff taught us (Everything I Do) I Do It for You, arranged by Kirby Shaw with whom we are so familiar and Peter introduced us to Riverside, his evocative arrangement of an Agnes Obel song. Then it was time for Christmas songs with bright arrangements of Sleigh Ride and Jingle Bells. Both directors emphasised brightness, communication and finishing off phrases together.     

Sure, there are differences between the two choirs. ReChoired auditions, we don't. Their average age is lower than ours. They deliberately keep quite small whereas now we are quite big. Actually, though, as always with these international exchanges, there is more that is similar than is different. Goodness, we even both rehearse on a Tuesday evening and have cake in the break. Naturally we all love to sing and we both benefit from a musical director who is strict but motivating and has a great sense of humour.     
ReChoired perform for us at our workshop

Our workshop finished with a lovely surprise. We were presented with copies of ReChoired's CD. I'm listening to it as I write.   

A lovely occasion all round.         

Thursday 20 July 2017

Sparkling for the NHS, the Lighthouse, 19 July 2017

They wanted something to kickstart their day. Something that would give it a bit of sparkle. We only had a little notice for this and not that many of us are available during the day. Nevertheless, we assembled a bass, four altos, four tenors and four sopranos. Not so different, then, from our small group singing and actually very similar to what happened when the choir first started out just over ten years ago.

The Lighthouse is at once a church and a conference venue. It is situated very near to the Metrolink and has a car park. Easy to get there, then. It is also just a short drive from the Salford Quays. Added bonus: there is a purpose-built performance area.

Warming-up in the pleasant cafĂ© area was just as enjoyable as the performance itself. It was partly a matter of finding the songs which worked best with this combination of people. Jeff  settled on I Say a Little Prayer, I Got Rhythm and Sleep My Child.  

It was thoroughly pleasant and though there were only a few of us, we could feel the weight of the whole choir behind us. All of that practising together makes this work. 

Then it was coffees all round and a quick trip down to Media City for an hour in the sun before we all set off back to our daily lives. 

We hope we sparkled enough for the NHS and that they will continue to do their very good work happily.